10 years' jail for Indonesian maid who smothered elderly woman with pillow

A 24-year-old maid was sentenced to 10 years' jail for smothering her employer's mother-in-law.
A 24-year-old maid was sentenced to 10 years' jail for smothering her employer's mother-in-law.Photo: ST Graphics

SINGAPORE - A 24-year-old domestic maid was on Thursday (Dec 10) sentenced to 10 years' jail for killing her employer's mother-in-law by smothering the 76-year-old woman with a pillow while she was sleeping.

Indonesian Yati, who goes by one name, pleaded guilty in the High Court to culpable homicide not amounting to murder for killing Madam Aandi Abdul Rahman Rasheeda Begam between midnight and 2am on Jan 14 last year.

After her arrest, Yati told a psychiatrist that she heard voices telling her to kill Madam Aandi. But in a second session, she said she killed Madam Aandi so that her employer, who treated her badly, would treat her better.

She said her employer, Madam Mohietheen Fathima Kuny Maidin, disliked her mother-in-law, so by killing the elderly woman, she would be able to "win maam's heart".

Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu noted that "by deliberate action and intention and sustained effort", Yati had taken the life of an aged victim "for no reason that we can really understand".

Madam Aandi, who uses a wheelchair and has a host of medical conditions, shared a room in a three-bedroom Serangoon North flat with Yati after the maid started working for the family in October 2013.

On the morning of Jan 13 the next year, Yati decided to kill Madam Aandi.

That night, when the elderly woman was asleep, Yati grabbed the pillow her head was on. She used one hand to press the pillow against Madam Aandi's face and the other hand to press the pillow against the back of the her head.

After checking that the woman was dead, Yati went out to the living room, had a brief conversation with her employer, then went back to her room.

When she woke up at 5am, Yati went about her daily chores. At about 11am, when Madam Fathima could not rouse her mother-in-law, Yati feigned ignorance.

A doctor certified cause of death as heart disease after failing to find any visible injuries.

Madam Aandi was buried that afternoon at a Muslim cemetery.

Madam Fathima continued to ask Yati what had happened. At first, the maid maintained she did not know but on Jan 16, she admitted that she had smothered her.

But when she was taken to a police station, Yati denied the killing and was released to her maid agency. The next day, she confessed when questioned by the police again.

Madam Aandi's body was exhumed on Jan 18, but an autopsy could not determine cause of death due to the severe state of decomposition.

selinal@sph.com.sg